January Woman to Watch

Jenna Cohen

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career to date. What’s been your highlights so far?

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few! My career started in New York early in the tech/e-commerce boom. My first job was with a fashion-tech start-up that was digitising the processes of the wholesale fashion industry. The business grew fast, and I had incredible experiences working with and building tech for the world’s leading brands and retailers. I had the opportunity to launch that business into Australia – and definitely a career highlight. 

From there I have been lucky enough to work for other tech rocket ships, and of course spending a number of years at Nike – a dream job, incredible team and company mission. 

Then of course landing at Refundid has been a most recent highlight – I am loving my role and having so much fun. 

New York to Australia, it couldn’t have been two more extreme cultures. 

The pace of New York overall is incredible, but I have to say I feel the same energy and hustle from my teams here in Australia. There is definitely a difference in approach to work in the US, but that may have changed from when I was there and in a post-covid world. 

I have to say though, I wouldn’t trade the 2am mornings for anything. The memories and lessons learned are invaluable and my career wouldn’t be where it is today without those foundations and grit. 

What were your reasons to start a career in eComm? Would you encourage more people to consider jumping into eComm? 

My answer today would be very different to when I first got into it. I think I was lucky to fall into it, but now I am the biggest advocate. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The industry is constantly evolving which is so exciting. It provides such an opportunity for creativity and innovation. There are also so many different aspects and ways to be a part of the industry that there really is a role for everyone. 

E-commerce is a fast paced and changing industry and tech is having a huge shift after covid. What trends are you expecting to see for 2023?

We all know that Covid has sparked a huge shift, and the economic conditions are moving the conversation from acquisition to retention.

As customers tighten their wallets I see key retail moments continuing to be a focus, frequency and repurchases – and an overall focus on retention and LTV.  I think we will start to see businesses really dial up their innovation in getting to know their customers, and building relationships to drive LTV.  

I know in our space, there is a shift in conversation for refunds as businesses start to see this as a retention play, and an important part of a customer’s experience. So of course I think the focus on refunds will be a big trend for 2023 as well.. Obviously no bias there! 

What are the key things you look at when looking to join a company?

At a broad level, I look across a number of things – the company mission, people & culture, leadership and general strategic direction. From a sales perspective, I always look at what is currently happening in the business, and what is the focus for the next 1-3 years. 

  • What are the current challenges and barriers being faced by the team currently?
  • Where is the business moving in the future?
  • Are you aligned with their values, the product roadmap and the strategy?

I think it’s important in sales to buy into the company and what you are selling. I think authenticity and trust are two of the most important characteristics in a sales person, and I would find it hard to embody these without believing in the product. 

How did you find the move working for SaaS companies to Nike? Do you feel like this has supported your sales career and getting full exposure to brands & vendors?

100%. I could not recommend the movement between the two more. Where I started my career, there weren’t a whole lot of processes in place – it was definitely a fail fast, fail forward mentality. Moving to Nike and gaining corporate experience really rounded out my skill set. I learnt a lot about managing and engaging stakeholders and ultimately becoming an internal sales person. It was all about building trust, communicating a vision and being thoughtful around prioritisation. It wasn’t that every project had to be a success, but more about balancing progress over perfection and building accountability for my work. The combination of skills I have picked up across both types of businesses has been invaluable. 

The switch between brand and vendor is also so interesting. My time at Nike, and working across a large complex brand allows me to truly understand pain points of our merchants, and help provide product solutions to satisfy their requirements. Definitely a great help in my sales career and something I would support for others looking at gaining experiences on both sides of the fence! 

Being a woman in sales & leadership, what is your biggest leadership inspiration? 

I have a lot of mentors in the industry who are my inspiration and I am very passionate about being the same influence to others around me – it is my favourite part of the job. I have been lucky enough to always have incredible leaders who have always been my biggest supporters and truly understanding what I need to be successful and my best self at work. 

I think as a female we have an ability to lead with empathy and relationships, something I believe we bring inherently to the workplace, and something that needs to be fostered. I personally think it is what makes women in sales be successful. 

What have you been reading or watching lately?

A large part of everything I read is about leadership philosophy. I am a huge Brene Brown fan (Dare to Lead) and enjoy making my way through all of the leadership memoirs (just started The Ride of a Lifetime CEO of Disney). The Add to Cart podcast by Nathan Bush is also a great listen and update on what is happening across the industry.